At Jean Georges Steakhouse, respect for ingredients pays off in exquisite flavor
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
One of the most prolific and respected chefs and restaurateurs in the world, Jean-Georges Vongerichten is known for a constant evolution of his culinary approach. In recent years he has opened an abundance of acclaimed restaurants with wild variation, including Simply Chicken, a healthy alternative to traditional American snacks at Madison Square Garden, and the sustainable and seasonal ABC Kitchen, awarded Best New Restaurant of 2011 by the James Beard Foundation.
Las Vegas is lucky enough to benefit from Vongerichten’s uniquely delicious vision as applied to two different steakhouses. The iconic Prime at Bellagio, known for its luscious chocolate-and-Tiffany-blue décor and amazing fountain-side location, is where the chef created a new standard by uniting fine dining with chophouse. One would think there might be nowhere to go from here, no way to elevate beyond Prime. But in 2009, CityCenter arrived in Las Vegas, and with it, a fresh new take at Jean Georges Steakhouse.
Located on Aria’s second-level mezzanine, adjacent to the Zarkana theater and in the same quiet nook where dining jewels Sirio and American Fish dwell, Jean Georges Steakhouse feels like an exclusive, sophisticated club where only the savvy spend time. Of course, it’s open to all who value a memorable meal in an intimate, energetic space. This sleek black-and-gold room radiates outward from a small, circular bar behind the entrance, splashing into dark, expansive spaces for an overall opulent vibe.
Although richness is a good descriptor for the menu, too, plenty of dishes reflect Vongerichten’s reverent respect for simple ingredients and almost minimalist approach, culled from his years of working and traveling throughout Asia. The crispy sushi sampler, a variety of pristine fish layered over crispy, caramelized rice, and tuna tartare, with avocado, puffed rice and soy-ginger dressing, both demonstrate an Asian influence. Elsewhere on the menu, spiced chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt, butternut squash soup with ginger and basil, and a burrata mozzarella salad with tomato, olive oil and balsamic vinegar show a wide range of flavorful capability.
Wood-grilled prime beef is, of course, the star of this show, but you may be surprised to find a short and fun list of other intriguing entrées, including roasted black cod in a soy and yuzu broth, salt and pepper lobster over buttery cabbage, and homey fried chicken served with a mouth-tickling hot sauce. And if you prefer your beef on bun, the JG Cheeseburger is a unique delight, stacked with Brie cheese, Asian pickles and truffled mayo.
True Kobe beef from Japan is back on American menus, and the delicate touch required to maximize this otherworldly steak is at the ready at Jean-Georges. But if you’re looking to indulge your appetite more than your credit card, check out the Rangers Valley Australian beef, specifically the 10-ounce Angus dry-aged New York strip. It’s as rich and juicy as a steak can be, perfection on a plate. It’s nearly impossible to choose from four house sauces—that great hot sauce, soy-miso butter, classic béarnaise and a tangy-sweet steak sauce—always along for the ride. Choose your cut and select a few sides from hand-cut fries, roasted Brussels sprouts with smoked bacon, broiled bone marrow and more.
Has he done it again? Absolutely. Expect the best when this name is on the door.
Aria 5-10:30 p.m. daily. 877.230.2742